During Sydney’s belated and half-hearted lockdown in response to this current outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19, Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian said on July 22: “I don’t think everybody appreciates how contagious this strain is and how different it is from past strains”1. Just about everybody with a modicum of intelligence and an ability to read or hear the news has known that the Delta strain is very much more transmissible than previous strains. It was first detected in India in early April 2021 and was detected in the UK in mid-April. At that stage, the UK was getting ready to open up its economy after months of lockdown and a rapid vaccination program. After two months the UK was in the middle of a third Covid-19 wave and the opening up of the country had to be delayed. By the middle of June, it was predicted that the Delta variant would “take over altogether on a worldwide basis”. This is because it is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha strain (the Kent variant) identified in the UK in late 20202.
Berejiklian continued with “There’s no doubt that Delta has beaten every single jurisdiction in the world”. At the time, this was a lie and it is likely to be doubly wrong now. At the beginning of June, 2021, Victoria had an outbreak of Covid-19 in which four of the cases recorded were of the Delta variant, and possibly were infected in southeastern NSW in the days before3. By the beginning of July, that outbreak had been stopped, with the last locally acquired case being recorded on the 30th of June4. Two weeks later another outbreak of the Delta strain began in Victoria, imported from NSW. At the time of writing (July 28th) Victoria is still recording locally acquired cases but all have been linked to current outbreaks and all were in quarantine for the entirely of their infectious period5. As a consequence, Victoria is starting to open up again. It is now likely that the jurisdiction of Victoria has stopped the Delta variant twice. Now, South Australia had an outbreak of the Delta variant a little over a week ago, and a short sharp lockdown seems to have defeated that outbreak.
There have been numerous lies during the last 18 months. This lie from Berejiklian was chickenfeed when viewed alongside the monumental lies coming from the federal government, but it annoyed me because I knew it was a lie when she uttered it, and no journalist picked her up on it. While the lying is symptomatic of the current state of politics, the inability or unwillingness of journalists to call it out at the time is something much worse.